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Guardian of the Dead
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Guardian of the Dead

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,765 Ratings  ·  506 Reviews
"You're Ellie Spencer."
I opened my mouth, just as he added, "And your eyes are opening."

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.

But then everything changes. The news headlines are all
Hardcover, 333 pages
Published April 8th 2010 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2010)
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3,5 mythological stars

“You’ll see the big stories, the ones that have formed the shape of the world around you. And you carry your own mythologies with you, so you can see the stories that are important to you, the ones that parts of you believe.”

Eleanor Spencer is a good girl, so after her mother survives cancer and wants to spend some quality time traveling with her husband, she offers attend a boarding school.
(Points for not whining about it. )

Then, paranormal stuff happen. Cute guys. Some cr
Apr 20, 2011 Lawral rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, read-but-unowned, 2011
There is a lot to love about Guardian of the Dead. Here's the shortlist:

- a smart, kind of nerdy heroine
- the freedom/restrictions of boarding school
- use and explanation of Maori myth (by a white author who has the balls to point out in the text the colonial nature, possible inaccuracies, and just plain wrongness of Maori myth written down by white people)
- high school use of a university library, because serious shizz calls for serious research
- patupaiarehe (fairy-type creatures), on
Guardian of the Dead is a unique YA novel that takes place in New Zealand and involves Māori (indigenous New Zealand) myths. I wanted to love this novel so much, and almost did. Unfortunately, it suffered from a severe case of literary ADD. Did it want to be a coming of age novel? Māori folktale? Urban fantasy adventure? Love story? Of course, it can be all of this and more, but when one aspect of this story picked up, the others would suffer.

Guardian of the Dead begins with seventeen year old
May 26, 2010 Thomas rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
Eleanor (Ellie) Spencer is attending a boarding school in New Zealand in lieu of her last year at high school. Her parents have left on vacation to celebrate her mother's miraculous recovery from cancer, and they have left Ellie in the prestigious yet dreary Mansfield College. Things are shaken up a bit when her best friend, Kevin, becomes attracted to an ambiguous woman even though he has always claimed to be asexual. And later on Elie finds herself falling for the mysterious Mark Nolan, a youn ...more
May 29, 2009 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read this book in manuscript form. It's funny, intense, magical, dark, and scary - an urban fantasy for teens in a New Zealand setting so vividly and perfectly described that I honestly felt I was there, even though I've never been to New Zealand in my life. I love the distinctively different magic in this novel, and the emotionally truthful relationships among the characters. I can't wait to read many more novels by Karen Healey!
Apr 15, 2016 Yusra rated it liked it
1st half: 4/5
2nd half: 3/5
Jan 21, 2012 Lightreads rated it liked it
When you have as many TBR books as I do, it's hard to keep track of what came from where. If I had to guess, I'd say I got this book off a list of good LGBTQ young adult, or possibly a friend recced it due to the presence of an asexual character. The book isn't worth it just for that -- nothing is worth it just for checking a diversity box -- but it is worth it.

It's a lively bit of fantasy about a girl at a boarding school who -- you think you can fill in the rest of this one, and you can in br
Mar 29, 2010 ~Tina~ rated it really liked it
I didn't really know what I expected when I got this book, not really familiar with any New Zealand myths, so I was pleasantly surprised how good this book really was.

Karen Healey weaves an interesting plot that mixes myths, mythology and mystery that makes Guardian of the Dead a very unique take for this particular paranormal element. The writing draws you in, leading you into the drama but with a leashed pace.
The characters were written really well and I connected with all of them right away.
Aug 29, 2010 Milly rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
If you enjoy reading about mythology, magic, supernatural beings, and learning about new cultures and folklores of other countries, and in this case New Zealand's, this is your cup of tea. And if you like reading about strong heroines and young adult romance, then you definitely need to grab this book.

The book is about Ellie, a teen attending a boarding school in New Zealand. In her obsession with a mysterious guy in school, Ellie finds herself with potential magical abilities and becomes invol
Diane Ferbrache
Dec 08, 2009 Diane Ferbrache rated it really liked it
Ellie is just getting over the shock of her mother's cancer when she is sent to a boarding school on the south island of New Zealand. There she makes a couple of good friends, excels in her classes (especially Classics), finds herself strangely attracted to a young man, and encounters a woman who seems to have a strang power over her. Ellie's odd misgivings about the woman prove to be true when Ellie learns her true nature.

This is a mystery/adventure novel deeply influenced by Maori legends and
◕ ◡ ◕  Arooj
Feb 11, 2011 ◕ ◡ ◕ Arooj rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
When I first heard about this book it sounded so interesting that I added it on my list right away. However, the synopsis I read a before failed to mention one thing that the synopsis on the book mentioned: fairies. I am not a big fan of faeries and am very picky when choosing fairy based books but I still decided to give Guardian of the Dead a try. Sadly I was dissapointed.

At first it sounded pretty interesting, even though I kept getting distracted and not wanting to read, but I tried to focus
Jan 04, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I give it 5 stars, because it was original, interesting and FINALLY not about vampires, werewolves, fairies and the lot. Although, the character DID attend a boarding school...yeesh. A main female character who wasn't a 125 lb. smart/cute/AP Class taking, SAT ace, doesn't know she's beautiful, has hot guys vying for her hand....Yeah, I mean you Bella, Nora, Bianca, etc..... If I gave it stars based how how much I liked it, or how I felt after reading the last page...2 stars.

Boarding school is s
MissHavoc {Cry Havoc! Reviews}
Review: I really wanted to like this book, but I was really just confused the whole time. I must say that Ellie, the protagonist, was very believable and really likable. She seemed like a real person. Other than that though, I didn't really understand what was happening in the story. It probably is because I'm an ignorant American and the author and characters are from New Zealand, including the lingo and story-telling style. The characters are all based on Maori legends, which is part of New Ze ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Mandi rated it did not like it
Okay, I don't usually review books I didn't like, because they usually just aren't my thing, fine, to each their own. This one, though, I think warrants an explanation.

I found this book on an Asexual Reads book list, and much to my delight it took only a few pages for Kevin (the main character's best friend) to be explicitly confirmed as asexual. Considering this is only the fourth book I've read that actually uses the word asexual, I had very high expectations.

And that's where the problem start
Feb 05, 2011 Camilla rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This was quite a story. The beginning was full of loose ends that left you questioning what was happening and what the characters were hiding, but as the story progressed everything in the mystery was revealed and all the loose ends tied up, leaving you shocked at what the story had become. The beginning leaves you thinking that this is just another teen novel where a girl becomes interested in a mysterious guy, but it was so, so, so incredibly far from that, it left me dumbfounded as I read. He ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Guardian of the Dead is a good book that benefits from having an excellent narrator and audiobook. The story itself has a lot going for it--mythology, New Zealand, a smart doesn't-take-shit from anyone heroine. But at times, the writing drags the story down. It liked to use clever turns of phrases like "I ate till my stomach touched my jeans" which FYI doesn't make sense, and overused adverbs in dialogue tags. Clumsily writing that detracts from an interesting tale.

Fortunately the story itself i
Original Review HERE

First Impressions:

Ana: Wow. WOW . I could not be more in love with this novel . The writing, the characters, the mythologies, the ideas behind the plotting and characterisation, everything is just as I like and hope whenever I open a book. I knew I was reading something different and unique even, when the heroine beats the shit out of the “hero” so that she can protect her best friend. Superb, just superb and I can hardly believe this is a debut work.

Thea: What Ana said. Seri
Feb 01, 2013 Cathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, sf-f, lgbtq
I love stories about stories, especially ones that explore what stories mean to us and why they’re important. Greek legends, Shakespeare, Māori creation myths and superhero comics all get a look-in in Guardian of the Dead, and they twist and combine in strange ways that reflect the way Ellie experiences them – contradictory but complementary, opposite truths that blend together rather than diminishing each other.

Māori legends form the basis for much of the (twisty and exciting) plot, and I came
Mar 06, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
Guardian of the Dead is not like anything you've ever read. Yes, it's a dark fantasy novel in a contemporary setting with teenage protagonists, and those books are overpopulating the world at present, but there's not a whiff of European monsters in here. The mythology she uses is Māori and incredibly well researched (complete with an afterword and a glossary at the end of the book). The heroine is uncomfortably overweight, and remains so even after the end of the novel. Nobody "fixes" it, either ...more
Steph Su
Feb 17, 2011 Steph Su rated it liked it
While certainly different from most speculative YA fiction out there, GUARDIAN OF THE DEAD did not give me the connectivity that I always require from an enjoyable reading experience. For me, it was an ambitious debut novel that was successful in the details of YA originality but missed most of the larger essentials of storytelling.

The things I appreciated about this book were mostly, sadly, superficial, at least when it comes to my criteria for liking a book. I appreciated that Ellie did not ha
May 27, 2010 K rated it liked it
Shelves: library
The first 150 or so pages of the book don’t really hint at it, but this turns into a pretty cool story.

The book begins with Ellie’s mundane school days in New Zealand. Her best and only friend is Kevin and it’s soon established that there’s zero romantic interest. Hallelujah! There’re some boringly repetitive references to her negative body image (which is later amusing when Ellie proclaims that self-hate is a real turn off)—but I appreciate that she’s described realistically. This first half se
Oct 12, 2011 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 8th grade is ok, and older
The story is steeped in New Zealand myth and explores how the stories and myths we believe shape our lives and world.

After a horrible battle with cancer her mother survives and Ellie's parents celebrate with a long worldwide trip. (Interesting twist, eh? The parents are not killed off, they live! and go on a glorious trip- I like it)

Ellie, on the other hand, celebrates by going to a boarding school on the Southern Island of New Zealand, there she is best friends with Kevin (the georgeousest boy
Feb 26, 2011 Tehani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, nz, australian
This edition of the book suffers from a terrible case of cover fail - it's completely unappealing and does nothing to invite its intended audience (or ANY audience) to read it. I put off opening it for many months simply because it looked terrible. The font, the art and the design do nothing to make the book appeal, and that's a major disappointment, because it's a great story inside that terrible cover. Utilising local mythology, Healey writes engaging and interesting characters into an excitin ...more
Alisi ☆ wants to read too many books ☆
DNF@80-ish %

This wasn't TERRIBLE but it wasn't good either. It wasn't hard to read either but it was one of those books that, if you set it down while in the middle and some random comes along to steal it, you wouldn't miss it. You'd just totally forget about it.

I'm 100 pages from the end and I just can't bring myself to finishing. Partly because of the fearies but also because of the story. This really feels like two completely different books. I got done with the first "book" and now whatever
Mar 31, 2016 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Nice easy to read writing, most likely because it's written about my native culture and home so I find it very familiar.
The information of the story line sort of feels like it was copy and pasted from the Maori Legend Wiki page but I'm thankful for the accuracy. It's not often my country or race is featured in books, let alone ya fantasy so this was so nice.
The story was good, full of action and plot. I don't usually enjoy books that have romance in it because I feel
Jun 04, 2016 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teens, fantasy, geocaching
I kind of knew that I would probably enjoy this but I was rather surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how rapidly I got through it as the story pulled me along and I just couldn't put it down. In Ellie, Healey has created a bit of an anti-hero who doesn't really want to get involved in the happens around her boarding school but finds herself in the middle of Maori legend regardless of her best efforts to just get by (and get her laundry done). The story brings in a lot of the Maori legends, ma ...more
May 23, 2010 Jet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am so impressed with this book. It's a fantastic story, and it's responsible storytelling as well.

It's interesting, creepy, and resolved in a way that leaves everything changed. The story revolves around (mostly) New Zealand mythology, and how stories change the world. And consent, what is and is not consent, and what that means for the story of a life.

I really like the main character Ellie, and I liked that she has a wonderful best friend who knows what's what and looks out for her - especi
Oct 25, 2010 Raina rated it really liked it
Healey uses a really unique twist on the paranormal genre. The setting and primary mythology for the paranormal elements in this adventure are from New Zealand. But there's also a delicious postmodernism here. Somehow, everyone's mythologies are what is true for them, and there are fabulous scenes of characters making choices based on deciding which mythologies to believe for now.
This is all underlying a boarding school romp, some complex female relationships, the requisite teen romance(s), an
Lori (Pure Imagination)
Mar 29, 2010 Lori (Pure Imagination) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lori (Pure Imagination) by:
Shelves: arc-for-review
Ellie is attending boarding school while her parents travel the world. Everything is just like always. Hanging out with her best friend. Drinking in her room. But when she literally runs into her crush, her life is about to be turned on it's head.

Guardian of the Dead is completely original. The premise and mythology is something I have never seen before in YA fiction. Karen Healey did a fantastic job of bringing these myths and stories to life in our world. And while I really enjoyed this book t
I would say this is more like 3.5 stars, and in reality if I wasn't confused with the folklore it probably have been 4.

Ellie is a 17 year old heroin that is NOT all perfect pretty, perfect smart, perfect frail, like we see in so many other YA stories today.Yes all your pretty, flawless in all your skinny 100 pound glory, heroin's I'm talking about you! lol Ellie is always the guys friend, and never their girlfriend. She is the girl you sneak into her dorm room with when your not quite done drink
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Imaginary Adventures: October BOTM - Guardian of the Dead 17 11 Oct 30, 2015 09:19AM  
Good debut novel? 3 24 Jul 04, 2012 11:55PM  
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Karen Healey writes books about tough girls with brains and interesting boys with secrets. She likes nail art, superheroes, and musical soundtracks. She technically lives in New Zealand, but really lives on the Internet.
More about Karen Healey...

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“Stories change us; they change the world. People are stories of themselves.” 41 likes
“Stories change us. They change the world. People are stories of themselves.” 8 likes
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